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An analysis of default funds in UK defined contribution pension plans

Byrne, A. and Blake, D. and Cairns, A. and Dowd, K. (2006) An analysis of default funds in UK defined contribution pension plans. [Report]

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Most defined contribution (DC) pension plans give their members a degree of choice over the investment strategy for their contributions. Many plans also offer a 'default' fund for members unable or unwilling to choose their own investment strategy. We analyse the range of default funds offered by UK 'stakeholder' DC plans, which by law must offer a default fund. We find the default funds are typically risky, but also that they vary substantially across providers in their strategic asset allocation and in their use of lifecycle profiles that reduce investment risk as the planned retirement date approaches. We use a stochastic simulation model to demonstrate that the differences can have a significant effect on the distribution of potential pension outcomes experienced by plan members who adopt the default fund as the path of least resistance.